Hong Kong protesters storm government building over China extradition bill

hong kong protesters smash legislative building
Protesters smash into Hong Kong legislative building
02:28 - Source: CNN

What we covered here

  • Protesters storm the Legislative Council: Hundreds of angry, young protesters broke into the heart of the government of Hong Kong, in a major escalation after weeks of mass demonstrations.
  • March for democracy: Tens of thousands of protesters in Hong Kong were also peacefully marching on the 22nd anniversary of the former colony’s handover from Britain to China. July 1 has become an annual day of pro-democracy protests. But a splinter group took their frustrations to the government headquarters.
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Here's what happened at the Hong Kong protests

Our live coverage of the protests in Hong Kong has ended, but here’s what we know:

  • What happened: Protesters stormed and vandalized the legislative building in Hong Kong. These protesters broke away from the annual July 1 march that marks the anniversary of when Hong Kong was given to China. There were other demonstrations that remained peaceful.
  • Why they were protesting: People were protesting a bill that would allow China to extradite Hong Kong citizens. Critics worry China would use the bill to prosecute people for political reasons and that it would erode freedoms people in Hong Kong have.
  • Where the bill stands now: The city’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam, speaking at a news conference, said that she doesn’t intend to continue debating the bill, and that it will expire in July 2020 at the end of the term.
  • What happens next: Protesters have made several demands — the complete withdrawal of the extradition bill is only one of them. They are also calling for Lam to step down as well as an investigation into police brutality, a retraction of the characterization of the protests as riots and the release of arrested protesters.

Police say they were forced to temporarily retreat because of electrical problems and increased violence

Asked why police left the legislative building before protesters broke in, Police Commissioner Stephen Lo Wai-chung cited several reasons including some of the lights getting turned off.

Here’s what he said:

  • The electrical box: He said some protesters were tampering with the electrical box, turning some of the lights off in the legislative building. The commissioner said he was worried about all the lights going off and a “wrong move” would be made on either side in the darkness.
  • Increase violence: Protesters started to use violent tactics to charge the inner doors while they were outside the main entrance, the commissioner said.
  • The “local environment:” He said that because police were inside the building, they were not able to use the same methods of force they would use to control the situation in a more open space.
  • Unknown chemicals: The commissioner described protesters throwing “white smoke” at officers. He said he was worried because 13 officers were hospitalized after “toxic powder attacks” on Monday afternoon.

13 Hong Kong police officers taken to hospital following protests

Thirteen police officers have been hospitalized after clashes with protesters in Hong Kong on Monday, the city’s police commissioner said.

The commissioner told reporters a chemical powder was thrown at police, adding that the action “crosses a line.” 

“Hong Kong is a safe society and none of this violence is acceptable,” he said, adding, “Police had no choice but to retreat.”

Hong Kong's leader says she strongly condemns Monday's protests

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam strongly condemned Monday’s violent protests at the government headquarters.

“I hope the community at large will agree with us that with these violent acts that we have seen, it is right for us to condemn it and hope society will return to normal as soon as possible,” she told reporters.

Lam went on to describe the protests as “two completely different scenes: one was a peaceful and rational parade…the other one was a heartbreaking, shocking, and law-breaking scene.”

She also said they will take necessary legal action. 

CNN’s Chandler Thornton contributed to this report.

SOON: Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam will speak to the media

Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam will hold a media briefing at police headquarters at 4 p.m. ET after a night of protests and police intervention across the city.

Several hundred, mostly young, activists were inside the Legislative Council building for hours before leaving late on Monday night.

Inside, they spray-painted slogans in Cantonese on the walls of the legislative chamber, tore down portraits and raised a black banner, that read: “There is no way left,” mounting an open challenge to China and Lam.

Pro-democracy legislator: Protesters weren't vandalizing for fun. "They were angry."

Claudia Mo, a pro-democracy legislator in Hong Kong, said protesters who stormed into the Legislative Council building are angry and frustrated with their government.

“They’re not inside that legislature doing all that vandalizing for fun. They were angry,” she told CNN’s Hala Gorani.

While Mo did not condone the vandalism, she said she sympathized with protesters.

“All the pictures you are seeing are shocking and they are unexpected, but then I hope the world wouldn’t just blame the young. You have to understand their temper, anger and frustration and resentment, hostility in particular against this legislature, which is just a rubber-stamping body. It’s a rubber-stamping body because it’s being dominated by Beijing minions and they outnumber the Democrats like myself included,” she said.

Mo called on the city’s embattled Chief Executive Carrie Lam to come out “sincerely and genuinely” to address residents “as soon as possible.”

Here's a look at the damage from the protests

A group of protesters stormed the Hong Kong government headquarters on Monday.

They smashed glass doors, pried open metal shutters to enter the building and spray-painted slogans on the walls of the Legislative Council chamber.

This is what the damage looked like:

Protesters smash glass doors and windows of the Legislative Council complex on July 01, 2019 in Hong Kong.
The portrait of Andrew Leung, the chairman of the Legislative Council, is destroyed after protesters broke into the parliament chamber of the government headquarters in Hong Kong on July 1, 2019.
Protesters spray-paint graffiti on a sign at the Legislative Council building on July 1, 2019 in Hong Kong.

What you need to know about the Hong Kong protests

Thousands of demonstrators in Hong Kong stormed the government building in an escalation of tension over the past few weeks.

Here’s what you need to know if you’re just tuning in:

  • What happened at today’s protests? Protesters stormed the legislative building and went into the main chamber where they put up a banner that read “There’s no rioters, there’s only tyranny.” These protesters broke away from the annual July 1 march that marks the anniversary of when Hong Kong was given to China.
  • Why were people protesting? The Hong Kong government has tabled a bill which would allow people to be extradited to mainland China — and face their judicial system. Critics worry China would use the bill to prosecute people for political reasons and that it would erode freedoms people in Hong Kong have.
  • What do they want? Protesters have five demands. They want a complete withdrawal of the extradition bill, an investigation of police brutality, retraction of the characterization of the protests as riots, the release of arrested protesters and leader Carrie Lam to step down.
  • What happened? Police came to the legislative building in full riot gear. They used tear gas and pushed protesters out of the building and away from the area.

Police moved in swiftly and drove the protesters away tonight

Police sitting down outside Hong Kong's Legislative Council building after clearing protesters from the area.

Most of the protesters cleared the Legislative Council building and the surrounding area after police moved in at around midnight, CNN’s Matt Rivers reported.

Police allowed protesters to spend the entire day in the area before clamping down on the protest “incredibly swiftly” and with a lot of “force and aggression,” he reported.

“It immediately killed their spirit,” Rivers said.

Young, black-clad protesters cheer as their train pulls away from police

At Hong Kong’s Admiralty station, the main stop underneath the Legislative Council, dozens of young, black-clad protesters nervously waited for the train.

Once they were on board, they looked out the window to make sure their friends got on because police were shooting tear gas overheard.

Some even held up the train, to the annoyance of older citizens, to ensure their friends could get on.

When the doors finally closed and the train pulled out of the station, cheers reverberated down the train.

But even on the train, they didn’t take their face masks off. No one risked being recognized or photographed.

Hundreds of police have gathered outside the legislative building

CNN’s Nic Robertson reports that “hundreds upon hundreds of police officers” have now gathered outside the Legislative Council building in Hong Kong.

At around 12:30 a.m. local time, police appeared to “lined up waiting to get their instructions” outside the building, Robertson reports.

Police moved into the area earlier this evening to push the protesters out of the building and out of the immediate area. Tear gas was fired upon the protesters by the police.

Police push protesters away from the legislative building

CNN correspondent Matt Rivers, who is near the Legislative Council building in Hong Kong, said it looks like police are blocking off roads to try to force protesters away from the area.

“They are now blocking off areas and kind of penning everyone in,” Rivers said on CNN Monday. “Journalists, protesters and whoever happens to be in this area in a very concentrated attempt to force people that were involved or covering these protests to a very specific location. It does appear to be Harcourt Road.”

Rivers said that police are “quite intense” and are in full riot gear. He said this is a forceful and swift action to get protesters out of the legislative building and take control of the situation.

Watch more:

Police used batons and tear gas to clear the roads

Hong Kong Police cleared the roads around the Legislative Council using tear gas and batons, according to CNN crews on the ground.

Police piled into protesters and pushed them onto the main Harcourt Road.

Riot police chase down protesters amid chaos in central Hong Kong

Mass protests in Hong Kong are being rapidly dispersed by hundreds of riot police, using tear gas and shields.

Protesters are making a last stand on Harcourt Road outside the Legislative Council building, which they unexpectedly occupied on Monday.

Police have been seen outside the entrance of the government building, indicating it may no longer be in protester control.

The speed with which protesters have been cleared in comparison to the heated protests on June 12 is staggering.

Once again, the police are raising the black flag, warning the remaining demonstrators that they’ll be launching tear gas soon.

Police launch tear gas after raising warning banners

Hong Kong police have arrived at the scene of the protests en masse and are now moving towards the Legislative Council building.

After raising black banners warning of tear gas, the police fired tear gas into the crowd.

It is now a full retreat by protesters as the police rapidly move forward towards the previously occupied government building.

Police begin to advance on the protesters

Hundreds of police are beginning to move down the Queensway towards protesters, who have put up their umbrellas in advance.

Armed with riot shields and helmets, the police have charged towards protester lines.

Demonstrators have begun to urgently evacuate the Legislative Council.